A new commissions lawsuit — and a proposal to herd copycats
Lawyers in Missouri are making a case for copycat consolidation, asking that their new lawsuit be pulled together with similar suits from around the country.
As 2023 comes to a close, yet another commissions case has been filed in district court, adding to the list of lawsuits facing NAR and many of the biggest brokerage companies in the U.S.
The Umpa case, filed on Dec. 27, is the 10th reported major antitrust case submitted by home sellers since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict on Oct. 31. There are now more than a dozen major cases challenging the existing buyer-broker compensation system.
Along with the new complaint, lawyers in the Umpa and Gibson cases filed a separate brief with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation requesting that the two cases be consolidated with seven other copycat lawsuits filed in different districts and be tried in the U.S. Western District of Missouri before Judge Stephen Bough, who oversaw the Sitzer/Burnett trial.
In addition to the Missouri-based suits, the cases listed in the consolidation request are Grace (San Francisco Bay Area), Burton (South Carolina), Phillips (Georgia), March (New York City), Martin (Texas), QJ Team (Texas) and Spring Way Center (Pennsylvania).
The details: The class action complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri — the same court that received the Sitzer/Burnett and Gibson cases. The class includes anyone in the U.S. who, with some exceptions, used a broker affiliated with one of the corporate defendants to sell a home that was listed on a multiple listing service in the past four years.
The class representative for the plaintiffs is Daniel Umpa, who sold homes in Ohio and Maryland in the past three years.
The allegations in the complaint mirror those of the many other commissions cases filed in the wake of the Sitzer/Burnett verdict. The plaintiff claims that the defendants conspired to enforce anti-competitive restraints and cause home sellers to pay inflated commissions.
The defendants: The National Association of Realtors and more than a dozen major brokerages are named as defendants. The brokerages are: HomeServices of America, Keller Williams, Compass, eXp, Redfin, Weichert Reators, United Real Estate, Howard Hanna, Douglas Elliman, At World, The Real Brokerage, Realty One Group and HomeSmart.
Several local realtor associations and MLSs are listed as co-conspirators.
The Real Brokerage acknowledged that it was named as a defendant in a news release to investors on Dec. 28. This is the first time the company has been listed as a defendant in a major commissions case. Real said it was evaluating the complaint and couldn't comment further at this time.